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What Is The Graceland Probate Scam and Could It Happen To Me?

Posted on Thu Jun 6, 2024, on Probate and Estate Administration

From Our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: “I recently saw on the news that an investment group tried to put Graceland up for a foreclosure sale and that a judge has blocked them from doing so. It was a Probate Scam. Could what is happening to Graceland happen to my home? How can I avoid something like this happening to my family?

Probate Scams, Protect Yourself

Estate Planning Lawyer Paige Zirrith.

What is the Probate Scam Happening with Graceland?

Graceland is one of the most famous pieces of real estate in America, and recently, it has been in the headlines for a different reason than its’ well-known history. The daughter of world-famous Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, created a revocable trust known as the Promenade Trust. The Trustee of the Promenade Trust owns the title to Graceland.

However, a mysterious investment LLC claimed that Lisa Marie Presley, as Trustee, borrowed from their LLC, putting up Graceland as collateral, and failed to repay the loan. Based on this allegation, the investment LLC contacted the successor Trustee, Elvis’s granddaughter, to have her repay the loan, or they would sell the property at public auction. 

The Promenade Trust Trustees: Powers and Responsibilities

Granddaughter of Elvis, Riley Keough, is currently serving as Trustee of the Promenade Trust following her mother’s passing in 2023. When contacted regarding the alleged loan and the investment LLC’s claim to Graceland, Ms. Keough wisely sought legal counsel. Trustees have many powers and responsibilities dictated by state law and the terms of the trust. Broadly stated, trustees have a fiduciary duty to use reasonable skill and diligence in managing trust assets.

Luckily, Ms. Keough had the insight and means to consult legal counsel. A trust may permit a trustee to use trust assets as collateral for a loan, so it could have been possible that Lisa Marie Presley had encumbered the property while she was serving as Trustee during her lifetime.

Document Execution Formalities

Numerous formalities exist when creating legal documents, such as revocable trusts, property deeds, and mortgages. The situation surrounding Graceland is a prime example of the need for these formalities. States require witnesses and a notary to observe the signing when executing legal documents. Your estate planning attorney records executed deeds in the county where the real estate is situated. While these formalities may seem like a burden today, they were a key factor in discovering that the documents produced by the investment LLC may not have been legitimate.

At Klenk Law, we prepare revocable trusts and deeds, transferring your real estate to your newly created trust. We take all measures to ensure that the documents are properly witnessed and notarized at our document executions. When it comes to the transfer of your home, no protection is too great.

Alleged Creditors: Lack of Business Formalities

Ms. Keough’s legal team discovered several factors indicated forgery. For example, there were discrepancies in the notary block and trustee signature. These differences are now being investigated, but the average person confronted about this debt may never have noticed these inconsistencies. It is also alleged that the investment LLC, Naussany Investments, is not a real entity. If you were the Revocable Trust Successor Trustee, how would you know if the creditor contacting making a claim is illegitimate or legitimate?

Since Lisa Marie Presley passed away last year, it would be difficult for the current Trustee to know if she had been in contact with Naussany Investments. States have regulations in place to avoid this situation. To form a valid LLC, one must file Articles of Organization with the state in which the business will be registered. Consumers may search for a business on their state’s registry to confirm their accreditation.

Could What is Happening to Graceland Happen to my Home?

The current legal battle to block a foreclosure sale of Graceland demonstrates how dishonest people can exploit innocent people. Serving as a trustee is an important role that should be taken on with understanding its responsibilities. But, like Ms. Keough, you are not expected to know everything. You can use the trust’s money to hire accountants, lawyers, realtors, and other professionals to advise you and protect the trust.

An alleged scammer behind this scheme has come forward and admitted to preying on the dead and elderly. Following a death in the family, dealing with the legalities of transferring title to beneficiaries is the last thing families want to deal with. However, executing the transfer and protecting the property is important. Graceland is a high-profile target for a crime, but had the property been less famous and the Trustee been less diligent, a scam like this could have been successful.

In Conclusion: Could What is Happening to Graceland Happen to my Home?

We hope you found this short article about the legal battle surrounding Graceland helpful. Contact us if you want to know more or need our help with serving as a trustee or transferring a property. Let our probate and estate planning lawyers help you walk you through what can be a confusing process. Feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. 

Want to know more about Revocable Trusts? Please follow this link to our page: Revocable Living Trusts: Everything You Need To Know.

Searching for more information about Probate? Please follow this link to our page: Probate and Estate Administration: Everything You Need to Know.

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Article by Probate & Estate Planning Attorney Paige Zirrith.

 

Tags:

Probate, Revocable Trust

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